Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
80 Proof, James B. Beam Distilling Company
The Smiths had a song off the Louder Than Bombs record called “Half a Person.” Part of the chorus went, “If you have five seconds to spare/then I’ll tell you the story of my life…” That’s what I thought of when tasting the Basil Hayden’s: If you have five seconds to spare, you’ll know everything you need to know about this whiskey. In a way, it’s like half a bourbon—pleasant, even catchy, but light on story and substance. (By the way, check out a very cool cover of “Half a Person” by the Welcome Wagon.)
Yes, the finish is short (a little longer than five seconds, but not much), but so are the aromatics. If you really stretch you might get some honey and clover and a little cotton candy. It just smells soft. On the entry it tastes as if it’s already been cut with too much water. The mouthfeel is silky, with the barest spicy tingle and a bit of wood opening to some velvety floral notes. But overall it’s just far too cautious.
This seems to be a case where the lower proof really sucks the life from the total tune. If it were a wine it would be a Soave, fragrant, soft and with a lovely texture but not satisfying in any real way. Purportedly there’s high amount of rye in the mash—I’d go ahead and blend in more straight rye on your own and see what happens.